Cohabitees Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have been unsuccessful in their legal challenge at the Court of Appeal. The decision the Court had to make was whether to extend the law to allow opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships.
Presently the law in the UK doesn’t allow opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships in the same way same-sex couples can, which has resulted in many couples travelling to the Isle of Man, which legalised opposite-sex civil partnerships last summer. Steinfeld and Keidan who initially started their legal battle 3 years’ ago feel marriage is a “patriarchal institution” which has a “sexist history” and feel that a civil partnership is much more suited to their relationship. Keidan has said that regardless of the outcome he will be looking to the government to open civil partnerships to all couples at the earliest opportunity.
In November 2016 when challenging the High Court decision of Mrs Justice Andrews’ Karon Monaghan QC told the Court of Appeal that the issue to be determined was whether the bar on opposite sex couples entering into civil partnerships was contrary to Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights – which refer to respect for a private and family life and discrimination.
Extending civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples would have given people a choice and much needed legal protection to cohabitees. Statistics from July 2016 show that cohabiting couples make up nearly 10% of the UK’s population. What remains clear is that the law for unmarried couples needs reforming to catch up with modern British society. Unlike with divorce or civil partnership dissolution there are no set of rules which apply when you split up with someone you have been cohabiting with so there is very little legal protection available, often resorting to complex trust and property law or applications under the Children Act 1989. As a family lawyer I regularly see the fall out when cohabitees separate and I believe urgent legislation is needed to provide legal protection for these couples to ensure fair outcomes on separation.
If you need advice on civil partnerships, cohabitation agreements, or your relationship has recently come to an end and want to know your rights give our specialist family and matrimonial team a call on 0343 507 5151 or fill in our online contact form and we will call you back when it is convenient.